Big business partners with Senpa to guide young entrepreneurs


SCCI and Senpa officials during their meeting

The two bodies made the announcement after they held their first official meeting last week.

“Senpa had the same feeling as SCCI that we need to encourage our young entrepreneurs and help them to get a foothold into the economy,” said the chairman of the SCCI, Marco Francis.

“This will create jobs and move people out of social deprivation, and this is the reason why we decided to develop this partnership.”

The chief executive of Senpa, Penny Belmont, said she felt it was high time for her agency to get the professional help and advice it needed to cater for young entrepreneurs.
“Senpa has been in existence for quite a while, and the categories we used to focus on were more cottage industry and handicraft, but when it comes to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), it involves a lot, and there’s a lot of preparation and things that the Chamber of Commerce can advise us on.”

Ms Belmont said that the SCCI deals with big entrepreneurs directly, and from this they plan to establish links so that the bigger entrepreneurs can coach the entrepreneurs starting small and micro enterprises to enable them to grow their businesses.

Mr Francis said the roles the two bodies would play were complementary. “Senpa will get involved with the logistics and administration while SCCI will come in with technical expertise. All the people who are involved in the SCCI are already successful businessmen, so we can assist the small businessmen and give them guidance so they can succeed too.”

Peter Rosalie, a councillor at SCCI, has been appointed as the chairman of the entrepreneurship development sub-committee, and he said he believed that the SCCI members are experts in the knowhow of business.

“We’ve been thinking of developing a junior chapter of the SCCI, for young entrepreneurs whereby we would be helping them along. We would be offering loans and training that we have developed with startups, but what we found to be missing was the mentoring part.”

“We are thinking of developing what we call a mentor-trainer business, so after you have received your training and funds, we will be helping to mentor you along because for me the importance in starting a business is the ease of growth, sustainability and success.”

Mr Rosalie said he has created a network of international experts on a blog that he is developing where young entrepreneurs can log in, leave their business queries and they will be given advice by an expert from the group.

The blog, which is currently still under development, is expected to boast a network of approximately ten local and forty international experts available to advise new businessmen and women, but said the blog was currently still under development.

“We also had a meeting with the African Development Bank and discussed developing the culture of funders and founders. So on one side you have established businessmen with capital who are able to finance people who have ideas that need funding to get their ideas off the ground,” said Mr Rosalie.

“This is something we will be discussing with the Ministry of Finance to see where we can have tax concessions. For example, people with capital can put their money in a pool, and then use that money to help small businesses kickstart.”

Mr Rosalie said he believed that setting up a business incubator with the input of Senpa was also essential.
“As a country, we are very small, so we need to work together in cooperatives. The whole idea is to incubate ideas, not businesses, so that we can generate innovation and eventually be the kind of country that produces inventors.”